Two-time Olympian Manoj Kumar has accused Sports Authority of India (SAI) of not providing financial assistance for treatment of an injury. In a letter on Monday to sports minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, the two-time Commonwealth Games medallist’s coach and elder brother Rajesh Rajound requested that steps be taken so that the boxer receives immediate treatment.
“After assuring us for months, SAI told us at the last moment that we can’t help you because your name is not in the TOPS (Target Olympic Podium Scheme) list or in the ongoing national camp,” Manoj told The Indian Express.
“The sports minister knows about the issue. The administrators kept saying ‘you can do your rehabilitation as part of the camp. Then in the last moment I’m learning from somewhere else that I am neither in the camp or under the TOPS now, so I can’t be helped.”
Manoj, who has been diagnosed with a stress fracture in his left hip joint, says the injury first flared up at the Asian Games last year. “In the first fight, my opponent hit me below the belt. It’s normal in boxing, but next day I felt it again in the second fight,” says Manoj, who lost in the second round in Jakarta. “After we came back, we discussed this issue. Then I was under TOPS, so my diagnosis was done at Mumbai’s Kokilaben hospital late September, and the total expenditure was Rs 5,30,400.”
In the letter dated February 4, 2019, Rajound alleged that there “is a political game plan afoot, to keep (Manoj) away from the games.”
“Even after sending in all the medical reports, I have yet to get any concrete reply from the concerned officials. After this, we requested the SAI and the Top Scheme officials, to grant us the services of a personal physio at the national camp. But the concerned officials ignored even this plea of ours. Manoj himself approached several officials in the sports ministry and SAl, but all to no avail.”
Responding to a PTI report which quoted an anonymous SAI official as saying “he repeatedly hid his injuries and wanted to be part of the national camp,” Manoj said: “Which boxer doesn’t have injuries? Injury is part of the game, but it was at the Asian Games that I really felt this problem.”
Interestingly, Manoj had requested for a personal physio as early as April 30th, 2018.
“I asked sports minister and secretary of sports. But there was no response to that either,” says Manoj. “All senior boxers should have a personal physio to help them better prepare for competition.”
Manoj was dropped from the list of boxers from the ongoing training camp at the NIS centre in Patiala. According to the 32-year-old, Boxing Federation of India (BFI) has now pitched in to help the boxer with his treatment and rehabilitation.
“BFI vice president Rajesh Desai found a sponsor who’s providing us Rs1.5lakh. President Ajay Singh has assured me that the rest will be taken care of,” says Manoj.
“They were ready to contribute when they first heard of the issue, but I thought it wouldn’t be necessary because of SAI’s assurances. I qualified to the 2016 Rio Olympics with a personal loan. I could have done the same this time around as well.”
Rajound adds: “Wo hume gumraah karte rahe. Kabhi bola nahi ki aap apne paise se karao. (They have been misleading us. They never told us to get the treatment done on our own). After such a long wait, we went to the SAI official, who then tells us ‘hum aapka ilaaj nahi kara sakte. (We can’t help you with regard to your treatment). This doesn’t fall under us. The doctors informed us that the treatment shouldn’t be delayed at all,” says Rajound.
“Because of that, the right leg had started hurting and there was risk that it could affect the back as well. In such a serious issue, this sort of politics is very demoralising for everyone.